Review Summary: The ever-changing LITE expand their aural horizons once again, but not quite how you'd expect...
Nobuyuki Takeda - Guitar
Kozo Kusumoto - Guitar
Jun Izawa - Bass
Akinori Yamamoto - Drums
Whilst their sound may appear to shift from one style to another consecutively, in reality LITE have always managed to be numerous different things at once. They remain an entity by which one can always be puzzled and surprised, but they also never stray too far from what makes them great; their raw talent. No protracted drones, no predictable computer trickery and no hiding behind walls of unnecessary self-indulgence.
That being said, their most recent outing, For All the Innocence
, is their most dense, computerised recording to date; what's more, it's by far their least 'mathy' release too. The stop/starts have mostly vanished, the tempos have noticeably mellowed and the time signatures cling on to 4/4 or 3/4 pretty stubbornly (the only time their grip truly slips is on the angular, riff-laden Duck Follows an Eccentric
). Amidst the cries of fanboys for the 'old LITE' back, never fear, because this new set of songs take on a whole new remarkable complexity that Phantasia
could have only dreamt of. Bassist Jun Izawa is on fire yet again but with more gloss and style this time around and the two guitarist's interplay is wholly reformed into a pounding, danceable electro fuzz, most noticeably on second track Red Horse in Blue
; far and away the strongest track on the album, and possible contender for the band's Opus Magnus. Where the output was once one awe-inspiring, furiously-tempered thunderbolt after another, on this album, no track is without carefully constructed beauty. The heavily synthesised backing tracks and stronger chord progressions combined with the band's natural inclination toward dense, compounded guitar twangs leads to an unlikely result - an album both coarse and gorgeous simultaneously.
Though LITE's new direction opens many doors for the band that most fans never saw coming, it also means virtuoso human drum machine Akinori Yamamoto often feels wasted. Anybody who has listened to this LP will notice the once the de facto leader of the band's furious tempo with stuttering machine gun fills has now been put firmly in the background after their new stylistic reshuffle. That's not to say his input is trivial or dull - in fact, the drum kit production sounds crunchier and more vibrant than ever before - but the old 'Bloc Party's Intimacy
' question arises again here; why replace a great drummer with a sequencer?
From beginning to end, For All the Innocence
has a streak of euphoria throughout, from the weaker, more indecipherable tracks like Cat Cat Cat
and Chameleon Eyes
right through to house-razers such as the gloriously intricate and lush 7day Cicada
and the thumping, folk-tinged powerhouse Pirates and Parakeets
. Where LITE have abandoned the very thing that originally made them great, they have embraced an original, more tricky style than ever with remarkable flexibility and ease - more so than that of their peers who have attempted similar turnarounds. The electronic shift was always coming (I mean, listen to the difference between Filmlets
and Illuminate EP
), but I for one never
anticipated an album of such joy, such maturity and such undeniable, imaginative, pure fun.
By Gabriel Power